COVID19: Immunity doesn’t last, booster vaccine needed

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People may need to have a third booster shot of a COVID-19 vaccine as evidence suggests immunity acquired through vaccination may not be permanent, said Cypriot scientists.

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency, Dr Zoe Dorothea Pana, a member of the government’s COVID-19 committee, said taking a third shot of a vaccine may be needed to maintain herd immunity until the virus is subdued.

She said the scientific community is looking into whether people should be given a booster shot in the coming months and whether COVID-19 vaccines will have to be taken annually like the flu jab.

Pfizer has recommended a booster shot after nine months to maintain herd immunity.

“The truth is that scientists do not yet know whether the antibodies formed are neutralizing nor whether the lack of antibodies presence also means lack of immunity,” said Pana.

“The body has other pillars of protection, which are activated by the vaccine and mainly concern other cells, such as T cells, which are also activated and provide immunity, but are not measured.”

Dr Pana is convinced that people will need to take a booster shot to achieve prolonged immunity until the virus is brought under control globally.

“At least one booster shot should be administered at an appropriate and reasonable time to enhance and prolong our immunity next year, something which we do anyway with the flu virus.”

Repeating vaccination is hotly debated in scientific circles, and one of the key questions the European Commission is facing is who should get the booster shot.

Scientists are looking into whether people who took one type of vaccine could take a booster shot or another vaccination cycle with a different type.

That is, people vaccinated with AstraZeneca’s adenovirus-based vaccine, being able to take an mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer’s jab.

“As we have seen recently with India, the virus is trying to survive by mutating, which may cause various issues in the future.

“Not only will it be more contagious, as the UK strain has proven to be, but it may also be more pathogenic.”